More than 100 Baltimore County high school teachers met at the Holiday Inn in Timonium yesterday to discuss an addition to the county's curriculum that officials hope will send a clear message to high school students regarding drug abuse.
The curriculum, which was written by teachers in 1990, will incorporate drug education into students' regular social studies classes. Ninth-graders will learn about drugs and their relationship with government roles and social behavior, while 12th-graders will study moral and public policy issues related to drugs.
The program was piloted in four high schools last year, said Rex M. Shepard, supervisor of social studies in Baltimore County.
Roger A. Horn, the Johns Hopkins University professor who helped found Safe Travel America after his 16-year-old daughter was killed in the 1987 Amtrak/Conrail train wreck in Chase, addressed teachers at yesterday's seminar.
The engineer of the Conrail train had admitted to smoking marijuana before the crash.
Horn spoke of his efforts to toughen laws, including the use of random drug testing, to help ensure that people working in "safety-critical" jobs would be drug- and alcohol-free.
"Everyone works their grief out in one way or another," Horn said of his campaign.
Before the accident, Horn said, he and his wife had considered it fortunate that their daughter, Ceres, was attending Princeton University and was able to take the train to and from school.
"After all, what ever happens on a train, anyway?" he said. "So it was a double or triple kick in the head."
While Horn acknowledged his respect for an employee's right to privacy, he said, "You've got to balance their rights against the rights you and I have when we get onto a train or an airplane."
Horn encouraged teachers to engage their classes in meaningful discussions about drug use and how to stop it.
"People should hear both sides," he said. "If you can get 10 or 15 or 20 kids not to do these things that are going to endanger the next population, I think that's fabulous."
"Drug and alcohol abuse is a big issue for high school-age children," agreed Sheila Reed, a ninth-grade teacher at Overlea High. "I'm excited about [the program]. It's not often that they come up with something that I think is so useful."